Orchard Sunset (2011)

Premiere of Russell Nadel's Orchard Sunset for Harp and Cello, 6/23/12; Parnassus Project Cafe Concert in Seattle, WA

Ruth Mar, Harp / Timothy Mar, Cello


For horn and harp (also available for cello and harp)

Commissioned by:
Apple Orange Pair
Emily Boyer, horn / Colleen Potter Thorburn, harp

Apple Orange Pair
Emily Boyer, horn / Colleen Potter Thorburn, harp
Christ Presbyterian Church, New Haven, CT
May 28, 2011

Performers in audio recording:
pple Orange Pair
Emily Boyer, horn / Colleen Potter Thorburn, harp

Score excerpt (horn and harp)

Score excerpt (cello and harp arrangement)

Program Notes:

Orchard Sunset was commissioned and premiered by Apple Orange Pair, a horn and harp duo in New Haven, CT, comprising Emily Boyer on horn and Colleen Potter Thorburn on harp.  Emily was a good friend during three years spent together as students at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD, and a champion of new music among the student composers there; she participated in the premiere of my Trio for Trumpet, Horn and Trombone in 2002.  After completing her undergraduate work at Peabody, she continued her graduate work at the prestigious Yale School of Music, where she met Colleen.  Both Emily and Colleen were interested in and inspired by new music, and excited about exploring the repertoire composed for their unusual duo.  Their premiere public concert as apple orange pair took place in New Haven in October 2010, and they have since given multiple concerts, each featuring a combination of music composed for horn and harp, music they arranged for their duo, or, in this case, music specifically composed for them.

I was delighted when Emily and Colleen requested this composition from me.  I had never before composed for the harp in a chamber music context, and learning about its unique abilities and sonic abilities was inspiring, especially from such an outstanding musician (and editor) as Colleen turned out to be.  And of course, having worked with Emily before, I was familiar with her superb musicianship.  In Orchard Sunset, I experimented to some degree with writing for the horn in a lower range than chamber music typically features, allowing the harp to dance above and below the horn in a steady flow of arpeggios.  I enjoyed the challenge of composing – especially for the harp, but also for the horn – using musical language and idiomatic figurations that would be both familiar (i.e., playable) and distinctive.  I particularly enjoyed writing many chances for each instrument to bring out the flowing, cantabile melodic style that they perform so very well.

The word "Orchard" in the title comes equally from the fact that Emily grew up on a cherry farm in Michigan, and from the duo's unique name – "orchard" was an evocative word I chose because it has in common both apples and oranges.  The "Sunset" came from repeated listening to the composition; after assigning the music the setting of an orchard, so to speak, the image of the sun setting very slowly, over the course of the entire work, came easily to mind.

Apple Orange Pair premiered Orchard Sunset at Christ Presbyterian Church, in New Haven, CT, on May 28, 2011.  I am grateful to AOP for their support, encouragement, editing assistance, patience, practice and enthusiasm, and for their friendship.